At least one is pretty much certain, as the vibes from the organization at the end of the season towards Brett Tomko seem to indicate he will not be offered a new contract. That isn't the worst thing, although I've dedicated some space in this blog explaining why bringing him back isn't a bad idea, either. Nevertheless, I'll work on the assumption he's gone.
But will the Giants go for another? That would depend on what the team feels about Brad Hennessey, what with the other three rotation spots being locked up by Jason Schmidt, Noah Lowry, and one would hope and assume, Matt Cain.
I'll make it simple, and just list the pitchers that I think would be worth it to go after, and worry about the rest later. I'll also throw in a few other pitchers that I think the Giants may take a look at for various reason, for variety's sake.
- Matt Morris - I've said this before, but while Morris might just be the most sought after free agent starter out there (making the assumption that pitchers like A.J. Burnett and Kevin Millwood might be out of many teams' price range), he isn't really much better than Brett Tomko. However, on thing I really like about Morris is his k/bb ratio (3.16 for 2005) -- his k rate is middling, but he simply doesn't walk many batters. I wonder about the price tag, though. Morris made about the same as Tomko did last year at 2.5 million, but again, with the dearth of quality starting pitching available, and with the aforementioned Burnett and Millwood liable to command double digits millions, I'm sure Morris will get at least about five million or so per year. In any case, this is the pitcher I think the Giants should go for first and hardest. He ought to fit into the middle of the rotation nicely. And guess what? he just filed for free agency on October 29th, meaning he knows it's unlikely the Cardinals will offer him a new contract.
- Paul Byrd - Another guy that walks very few batters, Byrd is an interesting possibility. I wonder at how much he'll command dollars/years wise (five million last year), but I doubt it'd be more than Morris. After an up and down career, he seemed to find something with the Royals in 2003, because he's been a decent pitcher since. But perhaps he'll be looking for something multi-year -- those last three season of decent pitching have been done with three different teams. However, a multi-year contract is just what the Giants should avoid with Byrd, not only because of the team situation payroll-wise, but because Byrd will turn 35 this December. If there isn't any other options, though, I suppose a two-year contract wouldn't hurt too much.
- Jeff Weaver - Pitching-wise, a very good option as well, as long as he comes way down from the large contract he just finished -- likely, but not guaranteed. But really, folks -- if the Giants sign this guy, I'll end up throwing up in my mouth a little. He's a decent pitcher, but I just...don't...want...him.
- Kevin Brown - Just throwin' this one out there. Brown just can't command too much money or much more than a simple one year contract at 40+ years of age, and coming off two years of sub-par performance and injury-shortened seasons. So...how much would be worth the risk? Two million? I'm mentioning this mostly because I can't help but think Brown, at a lower cost, would be a tempting lure for proven-veteran-hungry Brian Sabean. I don't really consider him much of an option.
- Jason Johnson - Another one I'm just throwing out there...the only upgrade someone like Johnson is over Tomko is that he's a different pitcher. As a 5th starter, sure, but he isn't even better than Hennessey. But in this free agent market, he's actually one of the better options if one is looking for a 5th starter to eat some innings, which says a lot about the free agent market. Still, not somebody I want to see in a Giants uniform.
- Al Leiter - Exact same situation as Brown. Exact. Except that he's a left-hander, of course. And his name is different. But they're both 40, both have Proven Veteran tatooed on their keisters, and Sabes can never have enough old guys.
- Jamie Moyer - Second verse, same as the first. He signs, I whine. Really, though, can any of us not see Sabean looking hard at all the 40-plus guys, if the price was right? I really want to just predict it right here, that one of the Three Old Amigos in Moyer, Leiter, or Brown will end up in the Giants rotation. But I won't, so don't ask.
- Really, I'm not going to predict it. I mean, yes, I want to, and it fits with Sabean's pattern of player acquisition from last season, but I'm going to let it go. No more old guy comments for me. Cold turkey. Now. Right now.
- Kenny Rogers - Must...not...make...comment...about...age. HE'S FORTY! (pant) (pant) Alright, another option that isn't an option. Oh, he pitched very well up until he punked out and bullied a cameraman that was half his size, and he did it in a hitter's park, which was very impressive (the, uh, pitching, not the bullying of the cameraman...ahem), but he's is a punk. Don't want him, at any price.
- Jerrod Washburn - The first real left-handed option I've mentioned, but Washburn may well prove to be too expensive. He pitched very well in the final year of his contract, and is at an age (31) where he'll probably be looking for at least a three or four year deal.
- Shawn Estes - Heh, just kidding.
And that does it, folks. Matt Morris, Paul Byrd, and Jerrod Washburn. All the others I mentioned are very old and risky, or just undesirable. As it stands, I'm not sure what the Giants can afford, but I'm making the assumption that Burnett and Millwood are more than what the Giants can afford. Even the three I've mentioned may be looking for more money in total contract dollars rather than a per year basis, but with Byrd this should be avoided.
On a sidenote, is anyone planning to go see the movie Jarhead? I'm thinking about it, but it strikes me as one of those movies that will either be pretty good or very disappointing, without a middle ground. I'm worried most about Jamie Foxx in that supporting role (as a sargeant, I think). He's a very, very good actor, but after the pinnacle of having Ray do so well, in addition to critical acclaim in Collateral, he's made one poor decision already with Stealth, which bombed, and could be on the verge of another with Jarhead. I can just see him overacting in this movie too easily.